Today I was directed to a blog post that was inspired by Lea Grove’s Dear Less Than Perfect Mom. This blog was written by children’s author Kathy Lynn Harris. Kathy thought that it would be fitting to do her own “adoptive mom” version of “Dear Less Than Perfect Mom.” For the life of me I cannot understand why we are still, to this day, separating moms into categories like “adoptive mother,” “birth mother,” or “step mother.” When it all boils down to it, aren’t we all just moms? Isn’t that part of the point of Lea’s original Huff Post article? Why do we feel the need to make other mothers who may be on a different path feel “less than” us? I do recognize that raising an adopted child has its own unique differences and parenting should be done differently, however Kathy only points out the differences in regards to how they affect her, not her adopted child. Anyhow, I found it ironic that Kathy’s blog post was inspired by an article meant to bond women together instead of segregate and tear them apart.
Most of the blog post is really quite heart felt. It covers the challenges of infertility, becoming an adoptive mother, and raising an adopted child, from her own challenges, of course, not the adopted child. There is one paragraph that struck a cord with me and it is the reason I decided to make this post. It reads, “I’ve seen you meet your child’s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. I’ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile … people who love him because he’s one of them. I’ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when he’s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.”
At first I was confused. I thought I had missed something in my prior reading. Did any foreshadowing lead up to the reasons why an adopted child visiting with their birth relatives may be “shaken” or “confused?” I back tracked in my reading and found nothing. Shaken is a pretty hefty word that carries a lot of weight. People are shaken when they are robbed. People are shaken when a close friend passes unexpectedly. Kathy was using this hefty word to compare it to how an adopted child feels after a visit with birth relatives. I do not live in la-la land. I know that in some adoption cases, such as foster to adopt with an agreement for contact with birth family, this may very well be the case. But, there is no reason given for this feeling an adopted child may have in Kathy’s blog post. So, of course, my mind begins to wonder.
Maybe this has been Kathy’s experience with her own children. Maybe she is one of those adoptive moms who has the unfortunate experience of having to subject her child to less than desirable birth relatives. Or maybe Kathy’s lack of education and knowledge about how an open adoption can be done in a healthy way for the child is the cause. Maybe Kathy is projecting her own feelings of insecurity about her child’s birth relatives onto her child. I don’t know because she doesn’t say. But what she doesn’t say also speaks volumes. Every adoptive parent who reads her blog will go over that line and tuck it somewhere in their subconscious. They will associate their child having a relationship with their birth relatives as something potentially frightening and harmful. In reality, giving the impression that this is always the case could very well end up being harmful to the adopted child of anyone who reads her blog post. Study after study has concluded that in most cases, where the birth parents would otherwise be fit to raise their own child but have decided not to, it is healthiest for the child to have access to these birth relatives in an appropriate way. Even in cases where CPS was involved it is still healthiest if birth relatives can maintain appropriate contact with their children. With a few strokes of the keyboard, Kathy has planted the seed in adoptive parent’s minds that this contact is scary and confusing. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I wonder how old Kathy’s child or children are. I wonder how they have been raised in regards to their adoption. In one sentence I came to the conclusion that Kathy will probably not be supportive or encourage her child/children to maintain a healthy relationship with their birth relatives. But then I realized I had also just made an assumption that may not be true. I am hoping that it is just a lack of education about the adopted child that makes Kathy think the way she does. I encourage her to remove her negative language about birth relatives from her blog post so as not to cause potential harm to the adopted children of the parents who read her blog.
After all is said and done I really can’t blame Kathy as much as the industry itself. The media, movies, and all over the internet all you see are scary movies about crazy and dangerous birth parents coming to re-claim their adopted children. It is a stigma that still continues to perpetuate to this day. I hope that Kathy chooses to edit her blog and not continue to perpetuate the myths and lies about birth relatives. It hurts the ones who gave life to these children and love them dearly from afar. It minimizes our pain. It also hurts the children who were given up, taken or surrendered as far as their identity is concerned. I read somewhere the other day that when you honor the birth parents you honor the adopted child because their identity and very being is part of their birth parents. Kathy, I implore you to honor the birth parents for all the adopted children whose parents may read your post.
If you would like to respectfully give Kathy some insight into her remark you can contact her here or follow my links to her blog post and comment. Remember to be respectful. Changing the thinking that has been around for decades will take patience, understanding and education.